Working with Children and Young People
This Code of Conduct is in addition to and complements existing or future policies regarding the use of such technology.
This Code of Conduct is intended for all those ministering to children and young people, including but not limited to activity directors, youth leaders, camp staff, priesthood members, friends and pastors. Volunteers and paid staff are expected to comply with these guidelines. This information should be shared with children, young people, and their parents as appropriate.
Definition of Social Media and Social Networking
Social Media is the means by which electronic communications take place within society. Social networking is the content of the communication.
- The use of social media by children, young people and adults to communicate is increasing.
- The use of social media in Christian ministry is becoming a widespread practice.
- There is NO privacy and NO confidentiality when sharing over social networks or through e-mail. Everything is public.
- The practice of communicating via social networking is informal and can blur the roles of youth leaders (teacher/friend/psychologist/pastor/counselor etc.). Maintaining the integrity of the ministerial relationship is important.
- The church recognizes that social networking has the potential to create confusion and an imbalance of power and authority in relationships.
- The leader/minister needs to assess the risks and benefits of communicating in this way and respect boundaries.
- Any adult working regularly with children and young people within the church should give serious consideration to having separate social networking accounts from their personal adult account for communication with children and young people. This provides opportunity for monitoring messages and does not give the child access to adult conversations on the same site.
- It is inappropriate for the adult to “friend” a child; however, an adult may respond to a “friend” request on Facebook. Contact via social media between adult and child should be at the child’s/young person’s instigation.
- The primary reason for an adult to communicate via social media with a child/young person should be to share information.
- For under 18/21 years old, parents should be copied into communications. (These ages are based on age of consent which may vary state to state, country to country)
- Adults should avoid from engaging in religious counseling via social network sites. This should be done face to face with another adult present. (See Child Protection Core Training 2 by 2 rule.)
- Photographs should not be posted without the person’s (parents’) permission. Follow the jurisdictional or world church policy on photo permission for adults and minors.
- Consider providing your “friends” on a social network site with a condensed electronic copy of this code.
- As a children and youth minister, it is inappropriate to share comments posted on social media sites about specific individuals.
Inappropriate use of the internet is not addressed in these guidelines, although there may be useful cross-over principles.